This post got me thinking: http://wow.joystiq.com/2012/09/26/mists-of-pandaria-and-character-aesthetic
Aesthetic plays a huge factor in what I play. My priest, who has become my main, was originally rolled as a Foresaken with a pal as a one-off silly try at a roleplay realm. He stopped playing and I ended up transferring to another realm to try out a guild and discovered I liked healing – and being undead. There were constant jokes since there aren’t many undead chicks, a lot of my friends recognized Kaliy (and her distinct purple pigtails) on sight and the lore is great. Even before the Cata revamp, the undead zones and story associated with the race are great – gothic, gloomy, and atmospheric. The race is identifiable and engaging, with their tragic roots and motivations of vengeance and loss, while still being twisted and magical enough to be something more than stock fantasy. If you spend any time questing in those zones, you quickly find yourself being sucked in to the story. I remember feeling a (quickly repressed) sense of gleeful, twisted pride at the Wrathgate event, despite the horror I was supposed to feel. Hell yeah, power to the Foresaken! >_> Shh, don’t judge me.
Then transmog came out and I fell in love with actually getting to LIKE what I was wearing. Unfortunately, being undead meant that I was doomed to dresses because of those ugly, exposed leg bones and how pants turn into ragged cutoffs when Foresaken wear them. Silly or not, that made me bummed out. I craved variety and splendor in my outfits. I wanted glamour and glitz. I wanted freaking chainmail bikinis, damnit (I mean, ffs, I explicitly specified that my barbarian in D&D wears one, even though that’s a freaking pen and paper game).
I resisted racechanging for a long time; I told myself I was hanging on for the PvP racials, but there was a bit of nostalgia at work, too – I am no longer in the guild that I levelled and first played Kaliy in, so there were a lot of fun memories linked to her. My belf paladin’s sexy tank outfits finally convinced me to race change to blood elf and I’m happy now. I swear. I’ve gone on transmog binges and my bank is crammed full of gear I want to play with…plus arcane torrent is actually quite nice for raiding. Still, every now and then, like when I stumble across a Foresaken NPC or do a quest like with Loremaster Cho where my character’s “roots” are discussed, I wonder if I made the right choice. Am I really a blood elf at heart? Do I even care about the Sunwell and all that jazz? This doubt lasts about as long as it takes me to open my character pane and remember – I’m here for the mageweave pants.
But, everyone has their own motivations. To some, pulling the highest numbers is their bread and butter, and they could happily play as an amorphous blob. To others, visuals are the most important – afterall, this is a graphical game, so why settle for something you don’t like the sight of? Others go for the story and could never pick a race like Orcs or Foresaken because of the backstory and crimes associated with that race. To some, it’s something that might appear relatively trivial, like the voice acting for that race, but which can prove to be a big factor after months or years of playing (after only a few weeks of playing GW2, I now know how tiring character sound-bites can become). What about you? What determines your character selection?